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Opinions of Monday, 27 June 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Kufuor’s Money Is Kufuor’s Business!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr. Ph.D.

In the wake of former President Kufuor’s being named co-winner of the Ohio-based World Food Prize, many of his critics, primarily members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), publicly wondered whether, indeed, the Asante Atwima-Nwabiagya native deserves any such award for supposedly halving the percentage of hungry Ghanaians during his 8-year tenure (See “I’ve Serious Doubts That Kufuor Actually Halved Hunger – NDC Activist” 6/24/11).

Actually, in my fairly well-informed opinion, it was former “President” Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and the recently deceased Col. Frank Bernasko, the man who spearheaded the Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) program as Commissioner for Agriculture under the National Redemption Council (NRC) regime, who ought to have been the pioneering recipients of the World Food Prize. For under the OFY program, for the first time in our post-colonial history, Ghanaians had more than enough to eat to be also able to export yams and other farm products to less fortunate West African countries.

Unfortunately, since Mr. Rawlings and his henchmen of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) summarily executed Gen. I. K. Acheampong, then thoroughly stripped of all his military credentials and officially under house-arrest by the Akuffo regime for at least a year as a common Ghanaian citizen by June 1979, it was only fitting that the next most effective premier on the agricultural front received the award. But even more significantly, since the maiden presentation of the World Food Prize did not come into effect until 1986, about 7 years post his summary execution, there is absolutely no way that the Chief Killer of Hunger could have become the first recipient of the World Food Prize.

To be certain, what the Kufuor critics among the ranks of the membership of the NDC ought to be remorsefully and contritely talking about is the imperative and patriotic need for the establishment of a national agricultural prize in the name of our slain former Head-of-State. And on the latter score must be significantly borne in mind that Mr. Ignatius Kwasi Kutu Acheampong, in barely five years of governance, achieved far more for Ghana, in terms of both material and economic development, than President Jerry John Rawlings achieved during his 20-year stranglehold on Ghanaians. These days almost nobody remembers the massive improvements brought to bear by way of the modernization on almost all our regional sports stadiums and the development of soccer as Ghana’s pastime in the 1970s. Could anyone of age pretend not to have ever heard the name of the “architect” of the so-called Azumah Nelson Sports Complex in Kaneshie, Accra? Or the Dansoman and Suntreso estate projects, among a host of others dotted across the country? What of the Kpong Hydroelectric Power Plant and the Dawhenya Irrigation Project?

Anyway, it is quite understandable that supporters and followers of ex-President Rawlings should be bitterly resentful of the co-awarding of the World Food Prize to former President Kufuor and his Brazilian friend and counterpart, former President Inacio Lula da Silva. Likewise, it ought to come as quite a worthwhile consolation, knowing that both Messrs. Kufuor and Acheampong hail from the same Atwima district of the Asante Region. And for those of his critics who may not know this, Atwima-Nwabiagya, Mr. Kufuor’s home district, and the district that he once represented in the Ghanaian parliament, are peak cocoa-producing areas. Consequently, when the former president observes poignantly that the capstone of his agricultural policy was squarely predicated upon cocoa production, this is precisely what he means.

Now when the NDC activist – whatever the latter designation means – Mr. Felix Ofosu Kwakye questions the statistical validity of the resounding success of “Kufuorian” agricultural policy, he does so on the unpardonably willful ignorance of cocoa revenue being the critical and unique basis of Ghana’s purchasing power. Consequently, whether the Kufuor and/or the New Patriotic Party tenure saw the importation of rice shoot up from a piddling $ 25 million to a whopping $ 600 million by 2008 is absolutely beside the point. What is most important to highlight here is the stark and incontrovertible fact that by December 2008, the purchasing power of the average Ghanaian had expanded 24-fold or twenty-four times! The latter magnitude ought to give the average Ghanaian a sobering picture of the damnable extent of the damage wreaked on a hitherto robust Ghanaian economy by the Rawlings-led Provisional National Democratic Congress (P/NDC – 1981-2000).

Now, it is rather pathetic and downright disingenuous for Mr. Stanley Dogbe, a presidential aide and NDC propagandist, to presume to second-guess the co-recipient of this year’s World Food Prize on how best to use his prize money, particularly when during the past three years that President John Evans Atta-Mills has held court in the old slave castle at Osu, Accra, Mr. Kufuor has, reportedly, yet to be paid his constitutionally stipulated ex-gratia entitlements. At any rate, the logical point to highlight is not whether ex-President Rawlings donated his patently underserved Hunger Prize – I mean, this is the man who gave us the “Rawlings’ Necklace” – as seed money for the establishment of the so-called University of Development Studies but rather, what quality of education Mr. Rawlings bequeathed Ghanaians; and also how many of this faux-revolutionary’s own children attended Ghanaian public schools and universities.

We are also compelled, once again, to emphasize the deliberately and viciously ignored fact that the first proponent of a free-education policy in Ghana was Mr. William “Paa Willie” Ofori-Atta, the man who was in charge of the educational and economic policies of the seminal United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), and not the Johnny-Just-Come-Lately President Kwame Nkrumah and his so-called Convention People’s Party (CPP) – (See The Working Papers of the Danquah-led Gold Coast Youth Conference; also, The Working Papers of the UGCC). And the idea of providing free elementary education for Ghanaian citizens far pre-dates 1960, as some grossly ill-informed CPP fanatics would have their audiences believe. Consequently, any serious attempt at addressing “programmatic plagiarism” in Ghanaian political culture and history ought to begin with Mr. Kwame Nkrumah and his CPP, and not Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party (See also George “Paa” Grant’s bitter lament of Nkrumah’s strategic theft of the UGCC’s policy agenda in Dennis Austin’s Ghanaian Politics: 1946-1960).

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), and author of 22 books, including “The Obama Serenades” (, 2011), his most recent volume of poetry. E-mail: ###